【Global Times】China benefiting from migration but more balance is needed

Date:2016-3-31 From:Global Times

China has emerged as one of the new destinations worldwide for migration. The geography of such flows has been changed by the fast growth of economies in regions such as East Asia, making them new migrant attractions alongside the more traditional destinations like North America and Europe.

While foreign-born residents still form only a small percentage of the overall population in China, their numbers are rising as foreign professionals have become more attracted to the Chinese economy and its numerous opportunities. Between 2000 and 2013, China saw a rise of more than 50 percent in the number of the country’s international migrants.

As part of the trend, African migrants in Guangzhou, capital of South China’s Guangdong Province, and other regions of the country, help to increase the diversification of Chinese communities as well as contributing to economic and trade cooperation between China and Africa. This points to the wider economic benefits of China’s growing attractiveness as a migration destination. 

And it’s worth noting that a rising number of overseas Chinese have been drawn back to the country, in part due to a variety of incentive policies offered by different cities that are vying for overseas Chinese talent.

It should also be pointed out that internal migration is of pivotal importance for China’s economic growth as it helps in driving the country’s urbanization. Migrants moving from rural areas to cities currently make up roughly one-third of the country’s 730 million urban residents. Nonetheless, many of them still face challenges in gaining access to public services and welfare benefits, barring them from being officially recognized as city dwellers. As a consequence, many migrant workers simply eke out a living in big cities while leaving their family members, children and the elderly in particular in rural areas or smaller cities and towns. 

Therefore, when it comes to building migrant-inclusive urban governance, the central government should not only put in place policy frameworks that allow for inclusion of international migrants, but also make greater efforts to match the economic contribution made by internal migrants with wellbeing equivalent to that enjoyed by urban dwellers.

Addressing the issue won’t be easy, given that offering more equitable welfare will inevitably put more pressure on local governments’ finances. A more sensible approach, perhaps, would be wider-ranging government efforts to reduce unequal growth in different regions. If that were possible, the country would see more cities being added to the list of favorable destinations for both international and domestic migrants, and this could avoid migration-related worries piling up in the more established metropolitan regions of the country. 

The article was based on a recent report jointly released by the International Organization for Migration and the Center for China and Globalization(CCG). bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn

From Global Times, 2016-3-29